Second Chance is one of the country's most unusual alternatives to the nation's prison systems, founded by Scientologist and former real-estate developer Rick Pendery. Even before it opened its doors to inmates last September, Second Chance and its unconventional methods had ignited a controversy in New Mexico's legal community. Judge Lang says he is "highly suspicious" of the program. "If it is connected to Scientology, just say so," he says. Second Chance officials and a spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology say there are no ties.
The Labour Party received thousands of pounds from an offshoot of Scientology, the Evening Standard reveals today. The decision to accept money from a charity linked to the controversial cult was taken at the highest level by members of the National Executive Committee. They allowed the charity, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), to take a stall at the party's annual conference in Manchester.
The Prison Service has warned that activists linked to the Church of Scientology are targeting offenders in British jails with unauthorised anti-drug and education programmes. Narconon, the drug detox and rehab programme developed by Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard, and Criminon, his drugs education and rehab programme, are both being offered to prisoners through correspondence courses. Though officials frown on the programmes, they are unable to stop the practice because they cannot justify tampering with inmates' mail in these circumstances.
Church of Scientology leaders have rejected claims that they are "canvassing" for new members in Irish prisons. The controversial church is contacting violent criminals offering them a place on their "Criminon" rehabilitation programme. Spokesman Graham Wilson dismissed reports that this was a strategy to recruit new members.